A controversial practice is growing in the South - cops are drawing blood from suspected drunk drivers, without their consent. Victims of drunk drivers say it's about time, but critics say the law goes too far.
"I want that camera on right now," an inmate screams. Cameras inside a Wyoming jail capture it all. A DUI blood draw in action. Five officers surround a suspected drunk driver, strap him into a chair and put a mask over his head. A nurse enters, quickly draws blood and leaves. It all happens in less than five minutes, without the suspect's consent.
"You can't force somebody to give a breath test. We can force somebody to give us blood," said Tennessee prosecutor Michael McCusker. It's the law in Tennessee. It's also a common practice in Georgia and Wyoming. It works like this: if a suspected drunk driver refuses a breath test, cops can now demand the driver give blood.
"They're done in a very civil fashion," said McCusker.
It's called implied consent, and it's something you agree to whenever you get behind the wheel. Even here in Virginia, licensed or not, if you're pulled over and the officer has probable cause to believe you've been drinking, then you automatically consent to a breath or blood test.
But in nearby states, cops are taking implied consent further. If you say no to a breath or blood test, they're getting a warrant to draw blood. Suspects are taken to the nearest police precinct where a licensed phlebotomist does the work. If you resist? "We have a facility here at the precinct where we are able to strap them down," said Lt. Michael Javer. "As far as putting something over his head, if they were trying to spit on us or something like that, we might try and find a mask."
Tennessee police say just the fear of a blood draw is working. DUI arrests are down more than 14%. DUI crashes down almost 5%.
Critics, however, say the law is flawed and may violate your 4th Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure.
"One of the keys to a blood draw is, if it is by consent, it has to be free from any threats or coercions. So the officers can't threaten them into it," said DUI attorney Claiborne Ferguson.
Forced blood draws are not part of the law in Virginia. "Currently here in Virginia, you cannot force anybody to take a breath or blood test. That is not permitted," said local attorney Matt Nelson. He primarily handles DUI and traffic cases.
He says in Virginia, you can refuse a blood or breath test, but you'll also be charged with refusal. "If you're charged with refusal, when convicted, the consequences of refusal on the first offense DUI are no driving privileges whatsoever. No restricted license, nothing."
Getting a warrant to force a blood test is a growing trend, and not everyone is worried it violates rights.
"Why do we have to give the drunk every privilege to be found not guilty?" asked Dell Russell. Her husband was killed by a drunk driver in 1995.
"We were high school sweethearts." She wishes blood draws had been the law then. The driver who hit her husband refused a breath test and prosecutors had no evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt he was drunk.
Friday, July 25 2014 2:50 PM EDT2014-07-25 18:50:43 GMT
A man has filed a lawsuit against Princeton Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham, AL and a number of other defendants claiming his penis was amputated without his permission. The man and his wife filedMore >>
A man has filed a lawsuit against Princeton Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham, AL and a number of other defendants claiming his penis was amputated without his permission.More >>
Friday, July 25 2014 2:26 PM EDT2014-07-25 18:26:08 GMT
Residents in a province in China woke up to a strange sight Thursday morning - the entire river had turned crimson! Inspectors believe the change was caused by illegal waste dumping. "We suspect thatMore >>
Residents in a province in China woke up to a strange sight Thursday morning - the entire river had turned crimson!More >>
Friday, July 25 2014 3:19 PM EDT2014-07-25 19:19:10 GMT
(WMC) – A prostitution sting was conducted at a Southaven hotel Thursday. As a result, the following 12 people were arrested: Preston K. Mitchell, 52, Memphis, Tenn., charged with procuring prostitutionMore >>
A prostitution sting was conducted at a Southaven hotel Thursday. Twelve people were arrested.More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 12:04 AM EDT2014-07-24 04:04:58 GMT
The victim of a vicious gang rape is warning other women in the metro area. The victim and her attorney talked about the attack exclusively with WLBT. The 35-year-old woman, whose identity we are protecting,More >>
The victim, whose identity we are protecting, said, "He put the gun to my head and told me to take my clothes off. And that's when I couldn't do nothing. I was just standing there crying. And the other dude came from behind the truck. He put one in my side. And they bent me over in my front seat and they started raping me over and over again." More >>
Friday, July 25 2014 6:53 PM EDT2014-07-25 22:53:59 GMT
In April, two local teens were arrested for a heinous crime. 13 year old Remy Harvey, and 16 year old Eddie Devine were charged with carjacking, kidnapping and raping a woman. She was abducted from herMore >>
Now, the victim is taking owners of the apartment she lived in, to court, claiming they failed to provide proper security for residents. More >>
Friday, July 25 2014 1:44 PM EDT2014-07-25 17:44:34 GMT
A Mississippi couple is behind bars after McComb Police found them living with their two children and the children's grandmother in a rented U-Haul truck that was reported stolen out of New Jersey. That'sMore >>
A Mississippi couple is behind bars after McComb Police found them living with their two children and the children's grandmother in a rented U-Haul truck that was reported stolen.More >>
Saturday, July 26 2014 11:03 AM EDT2014-07-26 15:03:41 GMT
Police are searching for two men who carjacked an SUV and plowed into a group of children and adults selling fruit at a Philadelphia street corner, killing three kids and seriously injuring two women.More >>
Police in Philadelphia are still hunting for a pair of carjackers who rammed a stolen SUV into a family selling fruit for their church, killing three young siblings.More >>
BRADENTON BEACH, FL (WFLX) - People are outraged after a Florida couple was caught having sex on a public beach Sunday afternoon in front of dozens of people including children. Bradenton Beach policeMore >>
People are outraged after a Florida couple was caught having sex on a public beach Sunday afternoon in front of dozens of people including children.More >>
Thursday, July 24 2014 8:29 PM EDT2014-07-25 00:29:10 GMT
A 35-yea-old woman says she was gang raped at a Jackson gas station and employees did nothing to help her. WLBT has surveillance video from the Shell station on Daniel Lake Boulevard, showing JacksonMore >>
WLBT has surveillance video from the Shell station on Daniel Lake Boulevard, showing Jackson Police after they were called to the scene.More >>
WLBT 3 - Fox 40
715 South Jefferson Street
Jackson, Mississippi 39201